February 25, 2011

Salmon and Springtime!

I am so ready for summer. The few teasers of warm weather have only cemented the fact that I am done with winter. I have learned that I much prefer the transitional months - spring and fall - to the full blown deals. So the approach of spring has me pumped!  As usual, I am looking forward to the change in menus. Although I know this will flip flop in six months, right now I am tired of all the warm-my-belly foods. I am ready for fresh produce and light dinners eaten outside. Things like tomatoes and peaches. So last night, Stud and I faked spring without dinner. A huge salad full of goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and avocados with some bread and salmon Stud grilled. My dad has mastered the grill and passed his salmon knowledge onto Stud and its delicious. So Stud whipped me up a delicious springtime dinner last night and I can't wait for the weather to catch up.

My Dad's Delicious Salmon
1/4 stick melted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 lemon (for juice)

De-bone the salmon filets if needed. Over medium heat on a grill, place the salmon flesh side down for 7 minutes. Then flip, cover with the melted butter and garlic and grill for an additional 4 minutes. Remove from the grill and flip skin side up. The skin should peel right off leaving delicious salmon behind!  Drizzle with lemon juice and you're ready to enjoy.

This way of cooking salmon has worked very well for Stud and for my dad as long as I can remember. And I leaves such good flavor. Everyone ahod really try this to make sure they are getting thier omega 3 fatty acids!

February 23, 2011

Daily Fluff IS BALD

My poor angel.  He had a bit of an issue with mats so he had to be shaved down basically to the skin.  He looks SO TINY.  And he's not showing any signs of self consciousness, so that's good.  I think I feel worse about it than he does.

Daily Fluff

Beau is getting his first haircut of the summer today.  Everyone thinks he is plump with all of his fur...I promise he is a healthy weight.  To demonstrate the sheer volume of his fur, I leave you with these before photos.  I will update this post as soon as I have a new skinny furless picture!

Beau Before

February 22, 2011

Goat Cheese Pasta

Whew.  Yesterday was my first day at my new job and I survived.  Now I just have to get back in the swing of job, class, and Beau.  Should be exciting.

This was one of the first things I made without a recipe.  It stemmed from college when I would throw any veggies I had in my fridge into a huge bowl of pasta with some olive oil, garlic, and dried herbs.  I can also tell you that almost all veggies are good this way.  My favorite combination was spinach and cherry tomatoes, and while I was marveling to my mother about my genius combination, she said "of course, and why don't you add some goat cheese and make it a sauce?"  I tell you - the woman is brilliant.  And my favorite college meal was born and I forced many of my friends to enjoy it as well.

Goat Cheese Pasta
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 large bag of spainch
5 oz. goat cheese
3 T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta.  Right when you start the pasta water, start the veggies, the timing is great on this recipe.  Add the olive oil and garlic to a skillet and cook just for a minute.  Then start cutting the cherry tomatoes in half long-ways and adding to the skillet.  As they start to soften, they will release their juices and form the sauce.  Once you have added them all, add some salt and cook over simmer.  Once the tomatoes are all pretty soft, add in the spinach in handfuls until it has all wilted down.  Then add in the goat cheese and mix it with all the good tomato juices.  Once the pasta is finished, add it to the veggies and toss until everything is well combined.

Stud is in training to run a mini marathon and it has him on this health kick.  I mean, he is eating carrots as snacks.  I'll stick with my M&Ms.  Anyways, the whole wheat pasta in this one was our concession to health and you really can't tell when it has the goat cheese sauce on it.  Goat cheese is also a not-so-bad-for-you cheese and there are enough veggies for like ten people in this pasta.  Overall I call it a win for health.  Stud says specifically my pancreas with the whole wheat pasta thing.

February 18, 2011

Breakfast Dinner

I love breakfast, it's by far my favorite meal of the day.  Every once in a while, Stud and I get a hankering for breakfast for dinner, mainly so we can have some chorizo.  Whenever I am at a restaurant for brunch, I have to get something off the breakfast menu, I completely ignore all those lame sandwiches.  I tend to also stick to Mexican themed breakfasts, so the breakfast burrito has become a favorite of mine.  It incorporates like all of my favorite foods: eggs, cheese, sour cream, fried potatoes, and avocados.  And these are definitely a breakfast item as well, but due to their size, I have them more for dinner. 

Breakfast Burritos (for two)
1/2 chorizo sausage link
5 eggs

1/2 c. cheese
2 c. fried potatoes (tater tots and the little square hash browns are my favorite)
Sour Cream
2 8" flour tortillas

Cook the potatoes according to the package instructions, I use the Ore-Ida ones I have in my freezer, but leftover roasted potatoes would be great as well.  In a large nonstick skillet, break apart the chorizo and cook until done.  Our is pretty spicy so we get it into very small pieces.  Layer the tortillas between damp paper towels - they will need to be microwaved for 30 seconds, but I like to wait until right before the eggs are finished.  Whisk the eggs with about 3 T. of milk until well combined and add to the skillet with the chorizo.  Cook the eggs until they reach your desired consistency and add in the cheese and let it melt.  You can also add hot sauce here if you want.  Once the eggs are finished, remove the tortillas from the microwave and layer the eggs with the potatoes, salsa, and a little extra cheese.  I like to keep the avocado, sour cream, and additional salsa outside the burrito, it makes them easier to wrap up.  To warp mine, I fold the sides in and then start at one end and roll it tightly ending so the seam is on the bottom.  Stud has yet to successfully fold a burritos.

I like this meal a lot because it allows us to kinda make your own burrito.  Stud always adds tons of additional hot sauce while I layer on the sour cream.  His are also a mess while mine are neat and tidy.  I am not surprised.  These are so adaptable, you can really make them your own - add onions, peppers?  Or you can serve them with some beans and really make a meal out of things.  I love breakfast....

February 17, 2011

Winter Time Steaks

I forgot!  When I wrote about Potatoes Anna, I completely forgot to tell you how I made our steaks inside!  I got too distracted with the Superbowl and chili, etc etc etc.  And Stud actually let me make these.  He is usually the meat man in our house, and I go with that.  He can do all the grilling, prep, marinating...I still kinda find slabs of raw meat gross, but I love the results so I will survive.  So these steaks.  So amazing.  I used two filets, but I assume it would work with any steaks.  And then you can pretend your in a fancy steak house instead of your kitchen.

Steakhouse Steaks (made inside!)
OK so there aren't really any ingredients...steak, butter, salt, pepper.  Done.  BUT BUT must be made in a cast iron skillet.  It is the only requirement.

Heat the cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper both sides of the steak and once the cast iron skillet is good and hot, sear each side of the steaks and the sides (I did 1/3 at a time).  Make sure it's a good sear to lock in all the tasty juices.  Once they are seared, place a large pad of butter on top of each steak and put in a 400 degree oven for upwards of 12 minutes, until they reach the desired done-ness.  I like mine medium, which is about 135 degrees.  Oh and make sure you take the temperature in the side to guarantee an accurate read.  Remove from the oven and cover with foil and let sit for ten minutes and then enjoy!

Yeah, putting butter on good steak is like....I don't know....real good.

February 16, 2011

Daily Fluff

I'll just leave you all with this precious puppy face to help you make it through Wednesday.

February 15, 2011


My brief stint in unemployment comes to an end next week - both sad and awesome all at the same time.  I have enjoyed my time off and it has been nice to have the time to get some things done around the house, and it hasn't been long enough for me to really get desperate.  My main project was turning our guest bedroom from a dark scary sad room into a happy place where I can do some sewing and guests won't feel like we are forcing them to stay in a dungeon.


After yaaaay!
I painted the room using leftover paint from the master bedroom and made big fat yellow stripes.  This room gets very little sunlight and always seemed so dark with the dirty green sea foam blah paint, and now, it feels so much brighter and more welcoming.  Stud hates to paint, so this was a project I tackled start to finish on my own.  Making the stripes totally appealed to my OCPD tendencies - the combination of a laser level and edge-lock painters tape made the job so simple.  The roman shades were added as a last minute project using directions found through my blog stalking using the old mini blinds that were there and some fabric glue.  I think they look great and really finish off the room and I hated those mini plastic blinds almost as much as I hated the paint color.  When I finished this room, it only leaves the den and the hallway with the original paint....since we moved in a year and half ago we've painted the dining room, the office, the kitchen, the basement, the upstairs, two bathrooms and now the guest bedroom.  No wonder Stud says he needs another decade before he will consider another painting project.

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Stud and I are celebrating today with our second annual Valentine's Day Asian dinner.  Last year was hibachi, this year Vietnamese!  I feel like any acknowledgment of the day is a great success seeing as it's Stud least favorite day and refuses to accept it as a legitimate holiday and delves into the consumerism holiday mumbo jumbo.  I just like to feel appreciated every once in a while, no big deal (I know he's reading this...hint...I like presents...hint) Well, his loss, I was going to take him on a month long cruise of the Mediterranean.  At least we have heart shaped cookies!

Oh and I hope you like the new look around here...a little more food oriented!

February 11, 2011

Daily Fluff

There have been some sunny/warm days here in Louisville over the past week and I enjoyed one of them by cutting back some plants for spring time!  One is our knock-out rose bushes which have so many thorns!  I have scratches all over my hands - through my gloves!  Beau on the other hand is not bothered by the thorns at all and was chewing on the branches I cut off.  OUCH. 

February 10, 2011

Chili Showdown Part II

Stud lived with a really good cook freshman-junior year in college, in fact, his nickname to this day is Cookie.  And that is where he met sweet pepper chili.  Cookie would whip up batches of chili for the apartment and Robert always raved about it.  There was never enough left for me to taste any.  So when I started talking about making chili, Stud flashed back to college and chili with peppers and onions and he had his heart set on it.  The battle began.

So he emailed Cookie to guarantee himself a fighting chance in our battle.  I have hacked into his email (mwhahaha....and to get the recipe) and here is the transcript from their conversation which had the subject line of "Secret Mission":

Stud: Hey man, Alex and I are having a chili cookoff on saturday: wife v. husband in a head to head chili showdown. Only means one thing: I need to cheat. Could you email me a basic list of ingredients/recipe you use for your awesome chili? I will give you total credit after I make her cry for her mother. I know you never really use a recipe but basic guidelines might make me a contender. I'll try not to tarnish the name of your Jesus Chili. Together we can defeat her!!!!!
Cookie: I'm on it, I'll try and make a cheat sheet for you.
Stud: You are amazing. I'm on surgery now which means I'm in bed and will be asleep in t minus 10 mins but I'll read it tomorrow, memorize it, then burn it so she won't find it. By burn I mean hit "erase." Thank you my good man and I will update you with our results.

Cookie: Ten four captain
Stud: Wow you went over and above the call of duty. Thanks a lot. Wes a gonna win now
Cookie: Whatever it takes to get the W

Stud: OK, we were the clear winners. turned out amazing. i forgot how much i love that chili. i informed Alex that you were the brains behind the operation, and she responded, "clearly, you couldn't make something that tasty." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but that was the gist.
Cookie: Haha victory!!!!

Stud/Cookie's Chili
1 large onion
1 red/orange/yellow pepper (whichever is available)
1 green pepper
1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 packet of McCormick's regular chili mix
1 packet of McCormick's hot chili mix
1 lb. ground beef
Plenty of salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil
1 T. brown sugar
Texas Pete hot sauce

Pour an ample amount of olive oil into a large non-stick skillet (enough to coat the bottom) and start to heat it up. While the oil is heating, dice the onions and peppers.  Once the oil is hot (veggies should sizzle when added), add the onions to the skillet and let them sweat for about a minute and then add in the peppers along with a large pinch of salt and pepper.  Let the mixture cook for about five minutes stirring frequently with a wooden spoon making sure they don't burn.  Once they are done, move them to the edges of the skillet so there is a gap in the middle and add in the ground beef to brown.  Cook for a few minutes and then add in all of the regular chili spice pack and about a third of the hot spice pack.  Stir until the veggies and the meat is well coated in the spice mixture.  Add in a few shakes of Texas Pete.  Lower the heat and add the cans of tomatoes and stir everything together until well incorporated.  Then add in the brown sugar and taste to make sure you don't need any additional seasonings.  Let it simmer, covered, on low heat for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn't burn.  Serve with sour cream and cheese.

Unlike Stud gloated to Cookie, I did NOT concede victory, but I did admit that it was delicious.  The chili's were shockingly different, I had no idea the taste could vary so much.  This recipe has a very sweet start and then finishes with some heat and is also much saucier than my chili.  All very interesting.  And I did not help Stud one bit - he made this completely on his own.  The chili showdown was a great way to spend a snowy Saturday and the result was the BEST - two delicious batches of chili and some for the freezer.

Since Cookie knows Stud all too well, he did provide these educational chopping videos with his recipe which I thought you all might enjoy as well:
Onions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr1ZQ94E-YA
Bell Pepper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p82eSWnUcQg (for this recipe, they need to be diced smaller than this)

February 9, 2011

The Great Chili Showdown 2011

Last weekend, Stud had a day off from saving lives and we were going to make a huge batch of chili for the freezer/Superbowl (we ended up having snack dinner...more for the freezer!).  As I was researching recipes and talking to my mom on how she makes hers, Stud was over my shoulder trying to add things like red and green peppers to the recipe.  Peppers had no place in my house growing up and I would never mar my mother's chili with peppers!  So Stud began to pout since he wanted peppery-sweet chili and I was making a big batch of meaty spicy chili.  With beans.  Yum yum yum.  I refused to compromise since this is my blog and I wanted to make meaty chili!  So we did what all newlyweds would do.  We had a chili cook-off and each made our own batch!

I went the secret weird ingredient route and filled my chili with a long list of ingredients.  But they are in the average pantry, so I didn't have to buy anything weird and I'm not sure if I added enough of all of them to make a difference.  But I went for it.  Chili is so hard to mess up, I was adding spices until the very end.  Next time, I'll add a few more of the weird ones and see how it goes.

Alex's Chili (Meaty Chili)
3 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 yellow onions
4 cloves of garlic
3 jalapenos
1 beer
1 can Rotel
1 28.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
4 T. cumin
3 T. chili powder
2 T. oregano
2 T. molasses
2 T. cocoa powder
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of black beans

Dice the onions, jalapeno, and garlic and add to a large pot with some canola oil, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about ten minutes until everything is tender.  Add the ground meat and brown.  Once the meat was done, I drained all the fat out of the pot just to you know, make it a wee bit less bad for you.  Add the beer and cook until most of the moistre has been cooked off.  Then add in all the spices - the cumin, chili powder, oregano, molasses, and cocoa powder and cook for a few minutes with the beef and the onions.  Add in the cans of tomato and Rotel along  with the beans and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about two hours, covered.  The chili will darken significantly.  Make sure you taste it and add any more spices!!  Then serve with sour cream, cheese, and avocado.  And if you want to be true to the local methods, serve over spaghetti.  Yay Louisville!

I actually did mine with half turkey and half ground beef to again, attempt to make it a little healthier.  If you want to do this, I would add a tablespoon of beef concentrate because chili just needs to have that meaty taste.  The lengthy list of ingredients leads to a subtle after burn and a great rich flavor.  And of course, if you are a non-spicy person, go easier on the chili powder and just add enough to your taste.  This chili was a giant experiment and I'm sure it will never be the exact same again, but this batch was oh so good.

February 8, 2011


Stud's contribution to the party was a delicious batch of buffalo chicken dip.  He says "it reminds me of my childhood in Buffalo, NY."  He grew up three minutes away from me here in Louisville, he thinks he's funny.  LIAR.  Basically he loves spicy cheesy things and this hits on all levels.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
4 chicken breasts, shredded (about 5 cups)
1 12 oz. bottle of Frank's Red Hot Sauce
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup. blue cheese dressing
Shredded cheddar cheese

Combine the shredded chicken, Frank's, cream cheese and blue cheese dressing in a bowl and pour into an oven proof dish.  Cover with shredded cheddar cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until it is hot and bubbly.  Serve with Frito Scoops!

The next time we make this I want to try using 1 c. of sour cream and then crumbled blue cheese instead of the dressing.  This recipe can get a little oily if it sits for too long and I think that way would prevent that.  And if you're against blue cheese, you can also use ranch dressing or sour cream and a packet of ranch dressing mix.  Or a mix of both!

February 7, 2011

Recap of Superbowl Snacks!

I really had no preference who won the Superbowl, I was just excited for all the food!!  Last night, Stud and I went over to Noe and Olga's house for a dinner of delicious snacks and to watch the game.  Olga has a complete recap of smorgasbord of snacks.  My contribution was homemade pigs-in-a-blanket!  I figured hot dogs + puff paste was a guaranteed success!

Pigs-in-a-Blanket (makes 24)
8 hot dogs
1 package of puff pastry
2-3 T. dijon mustard
Poppyseeds (optional)
1 egg

Thaw the puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight and cut the hot dogs into thirds.  Cut each puff pastry sheet into six strips, each should be 1 1/2 in. wide and then but in half the other way so you have 12 equal strips.  Spread some mustard over each strip and roll a piece of hot dog in the strip and place on a cookie sheet seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining 11 strips, and then with the second sheet of puff pastry.  Whisk the egg with some water in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, brush over the top of each piggie and if you have them, sprinkle with poppyseeds.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 22-25 minutes.  And then enjoy, they are best right out of the oven while they are warm and flaky.

These we so easy and I assembled them at home and baked them over at the party so they would fresh and hot.  And I had a ton of Hebrew National hot dogs in my freezer, so all I needed was the puff pastry.  These will be made again...and probably again.  I mean, who doesn't love pigs-in-a-blanket???

February 4, 2011

Not a Worst Cook!

Anyone else watch Worst Cooks in America????  I love it.  One reason being is that they are really teaching these people how to cook unlike the cooking shows that assume you know the basics.  An episode or so ago they made Potatoes Anna, which is like a simple version of Potatoes au Gratin.  It is made in a non-stick skillet and potatoes are layered with cheese and oil and it's cooked in the oven until they are nice and tender.  Sounds pretty easy...And these "worst cooks in America" could make it, so I should be able to do it.  And they were the perfect complement to our made-inside-steaks.

Potatoes Anna
2 Idaho potatoes
2 T. butter
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 c. grated Parmersean cheese
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Slice the potatoes using a mandolin to 1/8" and while slicing the potatoes, melt the butter in an 8" oven proof non stick skillet.  Once the butter has melted, layer the potatoes starting in the center and spiraling out (it gives the top the nice pretty pattern).  Keep the heat on medium low - this will give the bottom/future top layer the nice brown color.  After you finish a layer, sprinkle some salt and cheese and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Repeat with layers until all the potato slices are used.  Should take just a few minutes and work as quickly as possible before the potatoes start to discolor.  They turn kinda pink....it's weird.  When you complete the top layer, drizzle with the remaining olive oil (no salt or cheese) and put in the oven for 30 minutes.  Now here comes the tricky part.  After 30 minutes, remove the potatoes from the oven and drain off any excess oil.  Using a large plate or the top to the skillet (it needs to be bigger than the skillet), place it against the skillet edge and flip the skillet over so the potatoes are now bottom side up on the plate.  Slide them back into the skillet and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until they are nice and tender.  Remove and serve hot in slices like a pizza!

Aren't these so pretty?!  I think they would be a great dinner party item (serves 4-6 depending on the slices) since they look so upscale and fancy.  And they can be kept warm in a low oven so can be made ahead.  I would just cook them a little less if that's the plan.  But I totally think these look like they came from a fancy restaurant, even though they are very very easy!  And this morning, the leftovers are my breakfast with a fried egg and some hot sauce!!

February 3, 2011

Kentucky Cassoulet

I am back!  And since I was absent yesterday, I have the best treat for you today.  It is a hearty and simple winter dinner perfect for the cold snap we are experiencing.  AND by making this recipe, you are taking part in a Kentucky institution!  The recipe is from the Farmington Cookbook, which at this point in time can only be found in used book stores (if you see it snatch it up) or on eBay (there are actually several copies!!!!!).  I have no idea the last time it was published, I just know I lucked out with a pass-me-down that is still in good condition.  I love good regional cookbooks.  I feel like it deserves it's own post....coming soon!  Anyways, I am way off topic.  Cassoulet is a traditionally french dish, so of course I love it, and my host-mom in Aix-en-Provence made some version with lentils, duck confit, sausage, and chicken drumettes...it was amazing.  And according to Julia Child, cassoulet can and should take days to cook with love and care put into each meat (there are normally quite a few), and thorough consideration put into the beans and their cooking methods.  I'm not kidding, her recipe is like three pages long.  Rubbish I say!  The Kentucky version takes much less time and captures the spirit of the dish and warms your stomach on a FREEZING winter night.

Kentucky Cassoulet
6 chicken thighs (or about 4 c. leftover meat)
1 lb. sausage (I used hot Italian)
2 cans cannelini beans
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Pinch of dried thyme
1/2 t. dried basil
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. hot chicken stock
2 t. beef concentrate
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c. dried bread crumbs
1/4 c. olive oil

Cook the chicken and remove from the bone.  Break up the sausage in a large skillet and brown.  Remove from the skillet and leave abut 1 T. of fat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent and then add in the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, basil, sugar and salt.  Cook until most of the moisture has cooked off and the mixture is almost dry.  In a separate bowl, combine the chicken stock, beef concentrate and red wine vingar and whisk until the concentrate has dissolved.  In a large buttered casserole, rinse the first can of beans and layer them on the bottom.  Then layer the sausage and chicken, then the tomatoes, and then the final can of beans.  Drizzle the chicken stock mixture over the cassoulet.  Cover the top with the bread crumbs and drizzle with the olive oil.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1.5 hrs.

OK the list of ingredients is longer than I remember it being when I made it, probably because I was using leftover chicken.  But don't let it deter you!  This meal is great, and can be made ahead and baked right before serving.  It makes the kitchen smell sooooo good and wintery.  The first time I had this it was just the beans and tomato mixture as a side dish, also delicious.  When Stud said this meal was his new favorite, I decided he should make a top ten list since his has way more than ten.  This cassoulet is also phenomenal left over, it is usually a requirement for most meals I make....

February 1, 2011

Daily Fluff

Beau is a destructive chewer.  There are only a select few toys he cannot destroy and sometimes I feel bad that he only has a few toys.  His favorite (and the most durable) are Nylabones for intense chewers and they recently came out with a line of toys shaped like dinosaurs!  And since poor Beau never gets new toys, I completed his dinosaur collection last weekend when I picked up the brontosaurus to go with the stegosaurus and t-rex that are pretty much unrecognizable at this point.  For only $5 each, Beau can have the complete collection, especially since they last months and months.

Here he is with his new brontosaurus protecting me.  Such a good guard dog.


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